HP chief Hurd fields questions about EDS buy

CEO admits HP didnt have enough services, EDS buy will boost its outsourcing services

HP kept talk of its pending acquisition of IT services vendor EDS to a controlled minimum this week as company executives briefly addressed customer inquiries about the US$13.9 billion deal.

Chairman and CEO Mark Hurd made a quick cameo during a keynote session at HP's Technology Forum & Expo at Mandalay Bay to address one pre-recorded question put to company leaders by a few of the show attendees. While Hurd was absent for most of the keynote, he slipped onto the stage behind Ann Livermore, executive vice president of HP Technology Solutions Group, when one attendee simply asked: "Why EDS?"

"The deal is not closed ... but we are going to increase our global coverage by not quite double but close to it," Hurd told some 7,000 Tech Forum attendees. "We are very committed to making our services business the best in the business."

Livermore also added her input on the EDS acquisition (See FAQ: What does the HP-EDS deal really mean?), which echoed something industry watchers say drives many HP business decisions and technology acquisitions.

"We didn't have enough services, and not to copy IBM, but EDS will enable HP to offer outsourcing services in a different way," Livermore said.

Along with HP Software executive vice president Tom Hogan, Hurd later fielded audience questions sent via e-mail or text during the keynote presentation at the vendor's Software Universe conference, which is being held at The Venetian. Once again the EDS purchase topped the minds of 2,600 attendees at the software-specific show, and Hurd spoke at greater length about how management and automation software will be critical to HP's efforts in making EDS a successful acquisition.

The pending buy, he said, will help HP more quickly grow its services business, but not without putting standardized processes in place and coupling HP automation software with an updated services business.

"Clearly we are going to get more scale, more capabilities and be able to execute vertically and we will clearly try to leverage the agnostic nature of HP services outsourcing business," Hurd said. "We will not only align our software with our services, we will embed it into the service delivery processes we use."

Hurd emphasized the need to incorporate HP automation software, some of which was acquired with Opsware in 2007, into EDS processes so they can be not only standard, but also repeatable across multiple instances. Bridging software with services will enable HP to continue its strategy to dominate multiple technology markets for both consumer and enterprise customers, he said.

"You will see a blurring of lines between our software and services businesses. Our software strategy is to link and align it across HP," he said.